Thinking Anglicans

Christ Church safeguarding review

Updated Friday 27 May

Church of England press release
The Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, has today published its Terms of Reference (see below) to review the handling of safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy.

The review follows a referral by the Archbishops’ Council and Oxford Diocese to the ISB.  As previously stated, the review will not be considering the wider issues between the College and the former Dean.

Statement from Maggie Atkinson, Chair of the ISB: 
“Given substantial previous work has been undertaken but solid conclusions now need to be reached, under the scrutiny remit of the ISB we will undertake a review considering all that has previously been done on this case.

“Our aim will be to advise both those directly affected, and the whole of the C of E, where what has previously been done was appropriate and of good quality, and where there have been errors or shortcomings.

“It is particularly important that those who have been caused pain by what has happened, including the former Dean, have their concerns heard and reviewed by an independent body. The ISB was formed to do such work, and to tell both those affected by complex cases such as this, and the wider church, where change is needed.”

See also two items published earlier

Updates

There is a very helpful link in the comments below to an interview with Kate Blackwell QC from 2019. Thinking Anglicans reported on this at the time, see QC criticises Church of England safeguarding reviews (contains links explaining who she is).

“It is well worth a listen to understand misgivings about the way the ISB is approaching this case which in many ways is more complex than the Makin review. That has not been well managed and is already 2 years overdue. Do listen here from 33 minutes: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0007b3r PS if you only want to listen to Kate Blackwell QC on what an independent inquiry comprises it starts at 37:45.”

There are already many critical comments below about the Terms of Reference.
There’s a huge lot more criticisms over here.

“These have been reviewed by Victims, Supporters and Legal Specialists who have expressed deep concern about their contents. We have set out the annotated contents underneath for your information.”

27 Comments

Martyn Percy: is the Church of England Orwellian?

Martyn Percy has written three articles which Modern Church has published.

“In three short articles, Martyn Percy looks at three words currently being given the full 1984 treatment: independent, ethical and trustworthy.  Is the Church of England using these words as defined by most dictionaries in 2022? Or, are we now enmeshed in an Orwellian church in which little that is said corresponds to our normal frames of reference?”

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Martyn Percy’s departure from Christ Church

Updated again Thursday 19 May

Rosie Dawson reports for Religion Media Centre on the farewell service: Dean Percy’s parting shot: You think I am leaving in disgrace … I am not

Rosie Dawson attended Martyn Percy’s farewell service in Oxford on Saturday. In an interview conducted shortly beforehand he told her why he’s calling on congregations to withhold their giving from the Church of England, and why he’s not leaving quietly….

…Christ Church College, Oxford, where Martyn Percy had been the dean for eight years, refused to host any sort of farewell. The University Church of St Mary was proposed as an alternative venue but became unavailable once it became clear that the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, and the dean, who is also professor of theological education at King’s College London, could not agree on the content of the service.

In the end it took place in the 19th-century chapel of Exeter College just off Broad Street. The chapel is outside the jurisdiction of the bishop, and he did not attend…

…Following the settlement with Christ Church, the Bishop and Martyn Percy entered into discussions about what form a leaving service should take. In correspondence seen by the Religion Media Centre, Bishop Croft wrote that he was unable to allow him to preach. Dean Percy protested: “Your letter treats me with cruel indifference. It seems to me that you do not really want this service. You clearly think I am leaving in disgrace … I am not.”

The Diocese of Oxford said in a statement: “Mindful of Dr Percy’s stated intention to the bishop to leave the Church of England and also some concerns about Dr Percy’s behaviour behind the scenes, it was not possible to permit Dr Percy to preach at a leaving service organised by the diocese”.

There is a video of the sermon available here. And the text is published over here.

Update 1

The Church Times reports: Diocese of Oxford praises ‘hair-stroking’ complainant for going public. Much of this information was in a Telegraph article at the weekend, behind a paywall. But in addition:

…A statement by the diocese of Oxford, issued on Saturday, criticises Professor Percy and praises Ms Jeune: “We are deeply saddened by the inaccurate and unevidenced claims Dr Percy makes in his media interviews.

“We’ve long said that the actions of some of Dr Percy’s supporters have left people damaged and hurt. None more so than Alannah Jeune. It’s a courageous decision to tell her story given all that she has experienced, but hers is a powerful account that counters the vitriol sent her way. Her story deserves to be widely read.”

(I have checked with the diocese and that is the full text.)

Update 2

There is an audio recording of the entire service available here.

89 Comments

Archbishop Welby apologises to Indigenous peoples of Canada

The Archbishop of Canterbury has apologised for the “terrible crime” of the Anglican Church’s involvement in Canada’s residential schools – and for the Church of England’s “grievous sins” against the Indigenous peoples of Canada.

The Archbishop spent last weekend visiting Indigenous Canadian reserves, meeting with Indigenous leaders and Anglicans, and listening to residential school survivors, as part of a five-day visit to Canada.

Read the full Lambeth Palace press release here, and also Read Archbishop Justin’s apology to the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Scroll down to the end of the first link for some background information on the Anglican connection to Canadian residential schools.

Media reports from church and Canadian mainstream sources:

The Church Times: ‘We built hell and put your children in it’: Welby apologises to Indigenous Canadians.

The Anglican Journal: ‘Apologies are cheap … unless accompanied by action’: In Canada for 6 days, archbishop of Canterbury re-commits to reconciliation

The Globe and Mail: Archbishop of Canterbury apologizes to residential school survivors for Anglican Church’s role in ‘building hell’.

Reports from CBC News:

15 Comments

Bampton Lectures 2022: Professor Alec Ryrie

The University Church in Oxford announces:

The Age of Hitler, and how we can escape it

This year’s lectures are given by Professor Alec Ryrie FBA, who  is Professor of the History of Christianity in the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Durham.

The age of Hitler is not the 1930s and 1940s: it is our own lifetimes. It is the period in which Western culture has come to define its values not by Christianity, but by the narrative of the Second World War. It is the period in which our most potent moral figure has been Adolf Hitler, and in which our only truly fixed moral reference point has been our shared rejection of Nazism.

Which is good: but it’s not enough. And even if defining our values this way was wise, it’s clear that this postwar, anti-Nazi moral consensus is unravelling, and our whole system of values coming under pressure. What is going to come next? These lectures will give an account of how the ‘secular’ values of the postwar world came about, and what will happen now that the age of Hitler seems to be passing. They will show that for a new shared system of values to emerge from our current turmoil, we will need to draw creatively both on the newer, secular, anti-Nazi value system and on the older Christian value systems which remain powerfully present in European and Western culture. And they will show that such a creative synthesis is not only desirable, but also possible – perhaps even likely.

Details can be found here. The dates are 10 May and 17 May. The lectures will be live-streamed and recorded.

The Bampton Lectures

The Bampton Lectures, founded by the will of the Revd John Bampton (1690-1751), first took place at the University Church in 1780. Over the centuries, these prestigious lectures – sometimes courting controversy, always intellectually stimulating – have covered a range of theological subjects. It is a condition of the Bampton Bequest that the lectures are published by the Lecturer. These lectures are delivered in the Trinity Term every year.

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More criticisms of government plans for asylum-seekers

See previous post on this topic. Some more recent items:

Justin Welby  in the Telegraph Put humanity at the heart of our asylum system (I have not yet located a copy of this outside the paywall, but it is quoted extensively in the article below from Archbishop Cranmer.)

Paul Butler in the Independent ‘Rwanda refugees plan flies in the face of Christian teachings’ – Bishop of Durham

Arun Arora in The Northern Echo The Government policy that tears at the nation’s soul

Archbishop Cranmer How many millions of asylum seekers should the UK welcome?

Vatican News UK-Rwanda asylum deal raises human rights concerns

…Botswanan activist and lawyer, Alice Mogwe spoke with Vatican News on this latest deal between the UK and Rwanda, reflecting on its implications from the perspective of human rights. She is the President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)…

Contains link to audio interview (9 minutes)

Note this paragraph:

Concrete recommendations

In lieu of the controversial agreement, the FIDH president invites governments to stop focusing on the consequences of migration but rather coordinate efforts to stem the causes of migration.

“Nobody wakes up one day and decides to leave their country if there is good governance, if there is a rule of law, if human rights are in fact being protected and respected,” she says.

More so, she calls for a revision of the Asylum agreement, stressing that states need to comply with international human rights standards.

“What will happen to those who are vulnerable?” she asks. “What’s going to happen if children are separated? What’s going to happen if people fail to be recognized as refugees in Rwanda once they reach there?”

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Bishops criticise government plans for asylum-seekers

Updated Wednesday (twice) and again Friday (scroll down)
See also later article here.

The UK Government recently announced plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. This has been extensively reported in the media but in case you missed it, here are links to the official Home Office press release, and to the text of Home Secretary’s speech in Kigali.

Bishops of the Church of England have expressed criticism, including:

Archbishop of Canterbury

…And this season is also why there are such serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas. The details are for politics. The principle must stand the judgement of God and it cannot. It  cannot carry the weight of resurrection justice, of life conquering death. It cannot carry the weight of the resurrection that was first to the least valued, for it privileges the rich and strong. And it cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values, because sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures…

Archbishop of York

…Or rather, Christ finds us. He comes to us, as he came to Mary Magdalene, and he asks why we’re crying and who we’re looking for.

He has returned to take us with him. Like Mary and like Elizabeth who will be baptised in just a moment, He know us by name. He shows us what really matters. He shows us what we should strive for, which is why, among so many other things that trouble our world at the moment, it is so depressing and so distressing this week to find that asylum seekers fleeing war, famine and oppression from deeply troubled parts of the world will not be treated with the dignity and compassion that is the right of every human being, and instead of being dealt with quickly and efficiently here on our soil, will be shipped to Rwanda.

We can do better than this. We can do better than this because of what we see in the Risen Christ a vision for our humanity, which breaks barriers down – not new obstacles put in the path. After all, there is, in law, no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker. It is the people who exploit them that we need to crack down on, not our sisters and brothers in their need…

Bishop of Chelmsford

Full text of letter (PDF)

The Church Times has this: Rwanda off-shoring plan is ‘opposite of the nature of God’, Welby says and Government plans to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda denounced by faith leaders.

Press Association via Independent: Johnson accused of ‘disgraceful’ attack on Welby over Rwanda policy criticism

The Tablet Ruth Gledhill: Cardinal and Archbishop condemn Rwanda asylum plan

Telegraph Allison PearsonJudge yourself first, Justin Welby, before preaching to the rest of us

Archbishop Cranmer: Boris Johnson’s ‘disgraceful slur’ against the Archbishop of Canterbury

Guardian: No 10 goes into battle with archbishops over Rwanda asylum plan

Church Times Stephen Bates: Press: Tory papers turn on Welby for asylum ‘rant’

Church Times Angela Tilby: Welby’s Easter sermon deepened divisions

Church Times Prime Minister accuses senior clergy of misconstruing Rwanda proposal

Independent: Editorial: Justin Welby is right – the Rwanda plan raises troubling ethical questions (registration required)

Independent Cathy Newman: Thank heavens for Justin Welby: the Church has a duty to speak truth to power

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Rustat Memorial: no appeal planned

See our earlier report dated 24 March.

Jesus College, Cambridge has recently published this statement: Church must drive change on racial injustice and contested heritage.

Jesus College is calling on the Church of England to change how it deals with matters of racial injustice and contested heritage – while announcing it will not appeal the Consistory Court judgment which prevents a celebratory memorial to Tobias Rustat being moved from its Chapel.

The College says the current process urgently needs reform as it stands in the way of a constructive and inclusive discussion on sensitive and important issues.

Sonita Alleyne OBE, Master of Jesus College, said: “Many students and members of the College community put their trust in the Church process, and understandably feel let down by the judgment and its misrepresentation of their views.

“The Consistory Court’s decision shows a lack of understanding of the lived experience of people of colour in modern Britain.”…

The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this: Contested heritage and racial justice: statement by the Archbishop which includes this:

I have questioned previously why it is so difficult to move the Rustat memorial in Jesus College chapel – which causes such pain and distress to people whose ancestors were sold into slavery – to a place where it can be understood in context. I stand by those comments.

Law & Religion UK has two posts:

According to a report in today’s Times (behind a paywall):

…Jesus College could face a £150,000 bill for losing the Tobias Rustat memorial case, despite declining to appeal because of the “significant” costs involved (James Beal writes).
Sources told The Times that although the college had not finalised its figures since the court case, staG had initially estimated fees of about £120,000.
The Rustat Memorial Group, made up of 70 alumni who clubbed together to fight the monument’s removal, spent £30,000 and have now requested that the college pay their costs. The Church of England court will rule on costs at a later date…

The Church Times had this: Jesus College will not appeal against Rustat judgment and also I still think Rustat memorial should go, says Archbishop Welby.

And the letter from 160 clergy can be found here.

31 Comments

Church of England recruits National Director of Safeguarding

Updated Friday 15 April

Readers may recall that the previous National Director, Melissa Caslake, resigned in January 2021. Since then Zena Marshall has been interim director. The substantive post has now been advertised, both on the CofE pathways website and in the Church Times:

There are some further web pages dedicated to this vacancy, hosted by Green Park recruitment consultants:

Welcome letter from William Nye   Background on the National Church Institutions

Role Description    Person Specification    How to Apply

Applications close on 21 April.

Update: there is a letter (scroll down) in the Church Times today from David Lamming which makes a number of criticisms of the advertisement. See further in the comments below.

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Christ Church Oxford: Governance Review

The plans for this review have been published in an advertisement for the appointment of an Independent Chair, along with the full text of the Candidate Brief for the position of Independent Chair, Governance Review.

The advertisement says

…The Governing Body of Christ Church has resolved to commission a review of its governance. The purpose of the Review is to ensure that Christ Church’s statutes, by-laws, and governance arrangements meet the needs of the institution in the 21st century. The last comprehensive review of the foundation’s statutes was conducted in 2011. The Review will encompass the governance arrangements of all aspects of Christ Church, including the Cathedral, College, and School.

We now seek to appoint an independent Chair, who will, having consulted Governing Body, Chapter, and other parties, prepare a report setting out recommendations for the Governing Body to consider. The Chair will demonstrate appropriate knowledge of charity governance, an understanding of collegiate educational foundations, and ideally familiarity with the Church of England. They must have no current or recent connection with Christ Church.

At the conclusion of the Review, the Chair will be asked to prepare a report setting out recommendations for the Governing Body to consider. Christ Church has committed to publish the Review in full in 2023.

The deadline for expressions of interest is 29 April 2022

20 Comments

Anglican primates meet and issue statement

Updated 2 April

A meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion was held at Lambeth Palace from 28 to 31 March.
Afterwards a communique was issued: Communique of the March 2022 Primates Meeting. The full text of this is copied here below the fold.

The Church Times reports on the press conference held on 31 March: Lambeth Conference must not be dominated by sexuality again, say Primates.

Episcopal News Service reported it this way: Primates’ Meeting ends with statement on global concerns as bishops prepare for Lambeth Conference.

Anglican Communion News Service: Global Anglican leaders call for withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine

(more…)

12 Comments

Jesus College Cambridge – the Rustat Memorial

On 23 March 2022, David Hodge QC, acting as the Deputy Chancellor of Ely diocese handed down his judgment in the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Ely, on Re The Rustat Memorial, Jesus College Cambridge, in which he refused to grant a faculty to the College for the removal of the memorial. This has been reported in just about every British newspaper.

Full text of judgment (104 pages)

Summary of judgment (6 pages) (Recommended)

For a brief overview, see Law & Religion UK   Rustat memorial: judgment

Jesus College Cambridge: Statement on the decision of the Consistory Court

Joint statement by historical experts

Pump Court Chambers: Justin Gau wins first ‘contested heritage case’

Church Times: Jesus Christ forgave Tobias Rustat, judge argues, and so must Jesus College

Archbishop Cranmer: Rustat 1 – 0 Welby | Jesus College Cambridge must retain its memorial to Tobias Rustat

79 Comments

Churches appeal to Patriarch Kirill

Updated 22 March

As you would expect, churches have called for peace in the war between Russia and Ukraine:

The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury have both spoken by video to the Patriarch of Moscow: Welby, Kirill, and Pope Francis discuss peace in Ukraine by Paul Handley

The official statements from each side:

Analyses of this:

To understand the theological views of Patriarch Kirill, you need to study the viewpoint of the other Orthodox churches:

Updates

Religion News Service Jack Jenkins How Putin’s invasion became a holy war for Russia

Church Times Jonathan Luxmoore Patriarch Kirill backs Putin’s denial of Ukrainian independence

Archbishop Cranmer Why doesn’t Patriarch Kirill excommunicate Putin forthwith?

Toronto Star Michael Coren Ukraine’s suffering mirrors that of Easter — we must help this proud nation rise again

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Anglicans respond to the crisis in Ukraine

Anglican responses to the Ukrainian crisis include the following.

The archbishops of the Church of England issued a Pastoral letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with A Prayer for Ukraine, and urged that Churches prepare for National Day of Prayer for Ukraine. Ely Cathedral provided a translation into Ukrainian.
The Archbishop of York also spoke about Ukraine in a debate in the House of Lords.

The Scottish Episcopal Church issued Primus on Ukraine crisis: “Let us pray today for peace”.

The Church in Wales issued Ukraine – A statement from the Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John

The Church of Ireland has published Prayers in a time of war in Ukraine.

The Diocese in Europe has a chaplaincy in Kyiv and several in Russia, and has issued this invitation Prayers Across Europe for Peace in Ukraine (includes Youtube link):

All are invited to join together for
Prayers Across Europe for Peace in Ukraine

Tuesday 1st March
1800gmt / 1900cet / 2000eet (Kyiv) / 2100gmt+3 (Moscow)

Led by: Bishop Robert Innes
With
Rev’d Canon Malcolm Rogers, Chaplain of St Andrew’s, Moscow and Area Dean of Russia and Ukraine and Representatives of Christ Church, Kyiv

Also there is Bishop Robert Prays for Ukraine (for Chaplaincy Service use) which includes a video link.

Earlier, the CofE published ‘Please pray for peace for Ukraine’: the Church of England congregation which meets in Kyiv.

There is much discussion about the religious aspects of the dispute. Commenters include:

Church Times reports:

Church of England ditches shares in Russian firms

‘A repeat of Cain’s sin’: Orthodox leaders condemn Russian attack on Ukraine

Ukraine invasion is ‘a call to action’, Cottrell tells Lords

Ukraine invasion: Church leaders and charities react with horror and dismay

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Questions about senior recruitment

There were a number of questions raised at General Synod concerning two recent senior Church of England appointments. Earlier there had been two letters in the Church Times, first one about the appointment of the new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments, see here, and then a further letter (scroll down, from Mr John Brydon) concerning this, and also about the appointment of the new Third Church Estates Commissioner.

At Synod, four Questions were raised.

  • Two Questions concerned the appointment of the new Third Church Estates Commissioner.
  • Another two Questions related to the appointment of the new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments.

The Church Times reported  in detail on all this: Archbishop quizzed about selection of Appointments Secretary. This article includes details of a supplementary question from Rebecca Chapman (see first letter above):

…She asked the Archbishop to confirm that “prior to appointing Mr Knott to this role, you were aware of the contents of the lawyer’s report sent to your office in April 2017, which explicitly lays out seven identified breaches of employment law perpetrated by Mr Stephen Knott when dealing with my return to work at Lambeth Palace following maternity leave, and whether or not you shared that information with the panel who approved Mr Knott for this role.”

After hearing Mrs Chapman’s question, the session’s chair, Debbie Buggs (London), said that it contained “imputation” and “shouldn’t be asked”. The Archbishop need not reply. This was later challenged by Jayne Ozanne (Oxford), to a “Hear, hear” and applause from the floor…

…The lawyer’s report, a private legal opinion prepared by a solicitor, Jane Stuart-Smith, has been seen by Church Times. It says: “Two days before Rebecca Chapman’s return to work she had no job, no office and there appeared to be no serious attempt to address the situation by her line managers. Rebecca Chapman made all the running and found a creative solution to a situation that was totally unacceptable.

“Lambeth Palace narrowly avoided a tribunal claim for sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of the Part Time Workers regulations and breach of the Maternity and Paternity Leave Regulations. Fortunately, the situation was resolved because she took the initiative.”

It does not name Mr Knott and the Church Times understands that while his duties included the administration of HR duties, he was not responsible for decisions taken. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said: “Rebecca Chapman was a valued employee who remained in post and later went on to leave her role at Lambeth Palace on good terms…

…Ms Stuart-Smith’s report was paid for by Mrs Chapman’s husband, who in a letter, also seen by the Church Times, informed the Archbishop that he would be providing a pot of £20,000 to enable access for staff at Lambeth Palace to legal employment advice and guidance if needed. Mrs Chapman confirmed on Tuesday that it had been used by staff.

16 Comments

Safeguarding: Graham Gregory case review

Church of England press release

Graham Gregory: Lessons Learnt Review

15/02/2022

The independent lessons learnt review into the Church of England’s handling of allegations against the late Revd Graham Gregory across five dioceses, has been published today. Gregory was sentenced to three years imprisonment in 2014, on two counts of non-recent indecent assault on a girl under 13 years and was further convicted in 2018 of three non-recent indecent assaults against three separate victims, all children and was sentenced to four years four months in prison. He died in jail in 2019.

The review was commissioned by the National Safeguarding Team and carried out by Ray Galloway, who previously led the Jimmy Savile Inquiry at Leeds General Infirmary and was part of the Church of England’s Kendal House review team. The reviewer’s work was informed by the five diocesan reviews in; Chichester, Sodor & Man, Southwark, Southwell & Nottingham and York (to where he retired).

Its purpose is to allow the Church to take steps to enhance and improve its response to allegations of abuse and, thereby, to ensure a safer environment for all. It also considers both good practice and failings in safeguarding practices in respect of Graham Gregory, and the appropriateness of responses by Church bodies to allegations and concerns raised across each diocese in which he held any post…

The full text of the review is here.

…press release continued

Statement from Ray Galloway:

The events recorded in this report demonstrate the scale of Graham Gregory’s betrayal of the trust placed in him, the impact of which has been profound and enduring. Accordingly I should like to pay tribute to his victims for their courage in sharing their experiences with the Review Team so allowing us to build our knowledge and understanding of Gregory’s history of abusive behaviour.

Robust and reliable evidence, gathered over more than 25 years, shows that Gregory was a determined and persistent abuser of children who actively sought out and created opportunities to harm his victims.

The children he abused included his own vicar’s daughter, the daughter of a family relative and daughters of his congregants. The latter included one child whose parents were visually impaired and had trusted Gregory with the safety of their daughter when in his company.

Arguably the gravest and most regrettable conclusion of the Review is that of missed opportunity and the harm done that may have been avoided. This was possible because, despite child victims and victims’ parents repeatedly seeking support and protection from members of the clergy, including senior members, they were not listened to nor was action taken. This lack of action continued for almost 50 years. Indeed on at least one occasion an allegation was actively suppressed by a senior member of the clergy and Gregory merely moved to another diocese. That allegation contributed to Gregory’s conviction when it was reasserted some 25 years later.

Whilst for much of Gregory’s ministry safeguarding matters did not benefit from the profile and awareness that they do today, there was still a fundamental moral and professional duty to protect children. It is clear that this duty to the vulnerable was not met where and when most needed.  This resulted in Gregory continuing, unchallenged, and further abuse being perpetrated.

Clear and multiple opportunities were missed by the Church to listen to victims, scrutinise Gregory’s behaviour and to take action to protect those children and families involved. This would have stopped Gregory’s abuse, brought him to justice sooner and shown a demonstrable commitment to the welfare of the vulnerable. It is vital that the Church acknowledges and accepts the findings of this Report and makes meaningful and transparent arrangements to address these findings.

(more…)

7 Comments

Radical proposals for the role of bishops

Updated

On Monday, Kaya Burgess published an exclusive report in The Times, provocatively headlined Behold the Bishop of Brexit as church models itself on politics, and there was also a leader article The Church should eschew the temptations of political intervention. There was then a follow-up report on Tuesday (today): Church of England: Brexit bishop idea fails to inspire clergy. All this refers to an as yet unpublished document presented to the College of Bishops  last September.

The above items are of course behind a paywall. Fortunately, the Church Times (some free access permitted) has now published a detailed analysis of the same original document. This gives a clearer account of the document, and makes it sound more sensible than earlier reports had suggested. I recommend reading the CT article carefully:

Madeleine Davies Fewer dioceses, specialist bishops: Archbishops’ confidential paper revealed in detail.

Update 12 February

The Church Times has: Leader comment: Bishops in the driving seat.

The text of the consultation document (PDF) is now available here.

Further update: The full text of the consultation has also been published by the Church Times here.

37 Comments

Christ Church Oxford settles dispute with Dean

Updated Friday evening

 Christ Church press release

Christ Church confirms successful conclusion of mediation with the Dean

Statement by Christ Church: 

A process of mediation has been taking place to try to resolve a number of outstanding issues between the Dean of Christ Church and the Governing Body.

This includes an allegation of sexual harassment made against the Dean.

Christ Church has always regarded the safety and well-being of its students and staff as its highest priority. Any such allegation will always be thoroughly investigated and addressed, whilst respecting the right to a fair hearing for the accused.

We made clear throughout the various dispute processes with the Dean that no resolution could be reached unless the concerns of the individual making the allegation of sexual harassment against him were fully addressed.

Christ Church can now confirm that the mediation process has been concluded and that a resolution has been reached that is acceptable to all parties.

The Dean has agreed to step down, voluntarily, from his role as Dean of Christ Church, and the individual who made the allegation of sexual harassment against the Dean has agreed to settle her claim on terms which on her request are confidential.

At the request of the individual concerned, Christ Church will within twelve months commission a comprehensive review of its policies and procedures in relation to sexual harassment to be led by an independent expert. This review will ensure that any future cases are dealt with fairly and expediently.

We are grateful to the individual involved that they have agreed to work with us to ensure that these procedures fully reflect the experience they endured. The review will seek to strengthen further those measures which Christ Church already has in place to protect the students and staff, and to ensure that a safe environment for teaching and learning is maintained.

Christ Church is deeply sorry for the hurt that this individual has suffered and we regret the time that it has taken to bring these matters concerning the Dean to a conclusion.

Statement by ‘X’ 

In October 2020 I brought a claim of sexual harassment against the Dean of Christ Church.

The Dean has always denied this claim. He has also denied that he victimised me including after I brought Employment Tribunal proceedings against him.

I have to accept, incredibly reluctantly, that it is my word against his that the incident took place. I am acutely aware that this is a situation faced by many women who bring complaints of a sexual nature. Sadly, the various processes that have followed have not altered this situation. However, I want to acknowledge that Christ Church, to their credit, has always supported my right to make this complaint.

I know what I experienced on that day and I want to ensure that no other student or member of staff has to go through the ordeal that I have.

I am pleased that the Dean has agreed to step down from his role at Christ Church and, in return, I have agreed to settle my outstanding claims against him.

I am reassured that Christ Church has begun the important work of ensuring that its practices and policies provide the best possible support and protection for all members of its community. I will be working with Christ Church to ensure that whatever changes they adopt take into account my experiences.

I sincerely hope that in some way this will help to ensure that other students and staff avoid the distress that I have experienced.

I would like to thank Christ Church for bringing about a resolution to my complaint against the Dean.

Of course, I wish that a resolution could have been achieved more quickly and without the pain and stress I have endured, so that the sense of injustice I have long felt could have been, if not entirely eradicated, made more bearable.

The resolution that has now been reached brings the matter to a formal close, and I hope that we can all move forward in a positive manner.

Oxford diocese press release

The Very Revd Martyn Percy

4 February 2022  The Governing Body of Christ Church has announced that mediation processes have concluded with the Dean and a resolution reached that is satisfactory to all parties.

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, has issued the following statement:

Christ Church have announced this afternoon that the Dean has agreed to step down from his duties as Dean following a long and protracted series of disputes with the governing body and a process of mediation.

A complaint of sexual harassment brought against the Dean by a member of staff has also been settled in a parallel process of mediation. The allegation was unrelated to previous disputes.

A settlement has been agreed with the Dean and, separately, with the complainant.

The complainant has felt discredited and disbelieved. The Dean has felt hurt and isolated. The complaint and previous disputes have also been painful for Cathedral Chapter, the congregation of the Cathedral and many others. The settlement brings to an end a damaging period in the life of the Cathedral and the College.

There is a moment and opportunity now for grace and, over time, for a process of reconciliation and healing of relationships.

My own encouragement to all is to seek the peace to which Christ calls us. This will understandably take time and I commend all concerned to the continued prayers of the diocese. I have written to Martyn to repeat my offer of conversation and dialogue about his next steps.

The college will seek to appoint an independent chair for a governance review proposed by the Charity Commission. The Diocese of Oxford and the Church of England will contribute to that review in due course.

Both the Dean and the complainant have requested an independent lessons learned review of the processes followed by the Diocese and the Church of England nationally. The Bishop’s Council have agreed to this and we are seeking the support of the Archbishops’ Council for this to be jointly commissioned.

Martyn continues to be held in respect and affection by many across the Diocese of Oxford, the wider Church and internationally for his gifts as a priest and writer. Many will be grieved by the disputes that have led to his departure.

Together we hope and pray, by the grace of God, for a hopeful and fruitful future for all concerned.

+Steven Oxford

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Statement from Martyn Percy NB not referenced or linked in either of the above statements

STATEMENT Re DEAN of CHRIST CHURCH

 The Governing Body of Christ Church Oxford has agreed to drop all charges and processes against the College’s Dean, the Very Rev Prof Martyn Percy. A settlement – including a substantial sum in compensation and the payment of the Dean’s outstanding legal fees – was endorsed by the GB at a meeting today (FRIDAY). The College has also agreed to an independently-led review of its governance. 

As part of this settlement, Dr Percy will relinquish his position as Dean at the end of April. 

Dr Percy said: 

“Despite the trials and troubles over the last four years, we will miss Christ Church enormously.  It is a special place, and our family have been blessed with great support and friendship from students, staff, congregation and colleagues over this time.  Those friendships and our gratitude will endure and remain.  Our own faith in the constancy of God has been sustaining, and evidenced by the goodness, kindness and care we have been shown by many, despite all else. We sincerely wish Christ Church well for the future, and will hope and pray that the governance reforms will be both effective and welcome when they are implemented.”

One colleague of Prof. Percy said: “We are relieved and pleased that Christ Church has finally agreed a reasonable settlement to a dispute which has riven the college, cost millions of pounds and caused untold distress, unhappiness and harm to those caught up in it. Christ Church appointed him as Dean in 2014 and it was soon clear that a proud and august institution needed crucial reforms to some of the ways in which it operated, including in respect of the welfare and safety of its students. 

A small group of fellows – both past and present – disagreed and orchestrated a sustained and concerted campaign to oust him. That campaign took many forms and is reported to have cost many millions. Several expensive law firms and PR companies were deployed to denigrate, harrass and humiliate him. But every time an independent tribunal or individual examined the evidence they found against the College. 

The easy thing for the Dean would have been to walk away. That would have been better for his mental health and for the wellbeing of his family. But others at the College implored him to stay until there was a guarantee of a thorough and independent review of the governance of the institution. 

Today the College has finally agreed both a settlement to the dispute with him and to an independent review, the results of which will be reported to the Charity Commission, the ultimate regulator of Oxford and Cambridge colleges. This brings to an end all litigation and complaints, though various regulatory bodies will doubtless continue to look at what went wrong with the college governance, together with the actions of their advisers. 

The Dean added: 

“I can now step aside, and look forward to resuming a normal life with my wife Emma, who has been such a rock of strength during this painful struggle. 

While the past four years have often been harrowing, I have drawn great comfort from the unwavering support of colleagues, alumni and friends. I would like also to thank my legal advisers, both official and unofficial and Unite the Union, in particular the Unite Faith Workers Branch. A free, unfettered press has also succeeded in surfacing important truths in the face of legal threats and obstructions. 

Christ Church has been around for nearly 500 years and I sincerely hope it flourishes for many centuries to come. I hope the independent review overseen by the Charity Commission will succeed. I sincerely hope that he same standards in public life we have come to expect of our most cherished national institutions – including integrity, transparency and accountability – will flourish and bear fruit here.”

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Recent Church of England Safeguarding reports

Updated Sunday evening

General Synod will be considering this subject on the morning of Wednesday 9 February. No doubt there will also be numerous Questions on the topic at the sessions on either Tuesday afternoon, or Wednesday afternoon. The Questions and Answers can now be found here. Items 53, 59, 67-74, 83 are relevant (I may have missed a few). Subject lines are listed at the end of this article.

The main document under consideration on Wednesday morning will be GS 2244, which will be the subject of a presentation, at which the Standing Committee has decided will include an opportunity for questions.

A follow-on motion has been filed, which challenges the practice of not allowing debate on this report, and you can read the motion here. Asked to explain it, Gavin Drake said:

“The ongoing failure to ensure effective safeguarding by parts of the Church is one of the most significant issues facing the Church of England today. Much concern has been expressed about the work, focus and effectiveness of the National Safeguarding Team and other national safeguarding functions of the Church and these have not been addressed. It is wrong that the NST should be given an opportunity to present an unchallenged “defence” of their work which ignores the very many real concerns that exist. The follow-on motion will allow proper challenge to the report and enable Synod members to express their view on the actions of the NST.”

There are a number of other recently pubished items that relate to Safeguarding:

If you are unclear what the problem is in relation to the Trevor Devamanikkam case, this earlier TA article may help: Matt Ineson challenges the National Safeguarding Team. The update says:

As stated at General Synod (November 2021), the independent lessons learnt review into the case of Trevor Devamanikkam, commissioned by the National Safeguarding Team, was referred to the Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, for advice on how to proceed, due to delays in the process.
The Chair, Maggie Atkinson, has now responded and recommended that the review progress to publication as a very necessary part of the Church’s learning on safeguarding. She noted that this will take some time to complete given the reviewer will need to refresh her work so far and pick up what now needs to be done.
There is an ongoing invitation to the survivor to contribute and this will remain open throughout the closing phases of the reviewer’s work.
The ISB intends to contribute an initial chapter to the review outlining why it has taken as long, the stages and personnel changes it has gone through, and why the report is now being published, noting that the reviewer Jane Humphreys, is an independent expert with no C of E connections.

(more…)

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Christ Church Oxford: January roundup

Since our last reports here, and then here, in December, there has been extensive media coverage of the ongoing Christ Church saga. Unfortunately much of it has been behind paywalls. Nevertheless  here is a set of links, in date order, to all the items I have collected.

8 January The Times Oxford dons warned of jail over dispute with the Very Rev Martyn Percy

10 January Archbishop Cranmer Oxford Dons plan litigation against Archbishop Cranmer

14 January Cherwell Christ Church Board of Governors warned of jail time

14 January The Oxford Blue Christ Church disputes “misleading” Times article

20 January Times Higher Education Alan Rusbridger Christ Church’s internecine war is a huge failure of governance  (free registration required)

21 January Financial Times Dispute with priest threatens to mire Oxford college in scandal

21 January The Times Martyn Percy battle is disastrous, warns former Oxford college head

23 January Cherwell Dean of Christ Church indicates support for resignation deal as protests rage.

24 January The Times Oxford University: Christ Church plays down £1.5m deal to end Martyn Percy dispute

28 January Church Times Press: Pay-off won’t save Christ Church’s reputation

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